The Golden Mean

Annabel Lyon

The Golden Mean

In this fictional tale set in ancient Greece, Aristotle postpones his ascendancy to the head of the Academy in Athens to instruct Alexander, a young prince and would-be conqueror. The philosopher bestows the ultimate lesson of the golden mean, the balancing rule needed to keep the impulses of Alexander's warrior culture in check. Though The Golden Mean is a novel of ideas, it's also a character study rich in detail.

The Golden Mean won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and was nominated for the Governor General's Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize when it was published in 2009.


The rain falls in black cords, lashing my animals, my men, and my wife, Pythias, who last night lay with her legs spread while I took notes on the mouth of her sex, who weeps silent tears of exhaustion now, on this tenth day of our journey. On the ship she seemed comfortable enough, but this last overland stage is beyond all her experience and it shows. Her mare stumbles; she's let the reins go loose again, allowing the animal to sleepwalk. She rides awkwardly, weighed down by her sodden finery. Earlier I suggested she remain on one of the carts but she resisted, such a rare occurrence that I smiled, and she, embarrassed, looked away. Callisthenes, my nephew, offered to walk the last distance, and with some difficulty we helped her onto his big bay. She clutched at the reins the first time the animal shifted beneath her.

From The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon ©2009. Published by Vintage Canada.


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